Referrals continue through Dec. 4 for the Smyth County Santa’s Elves program, and local resident Ken Heath is challenging state politicians to contribute.
According to Kayla Davidson with the Santa’s Elves program through Smyth County Social Services, referrals began on Oct. 28 and continue through Dec. 4. As of last week, the program had taken in a total of 222 families representing 507 children. Of those children, 301 have been sponsored by 54 outside entities or individual families. That leaves approximately 206 children who had not been sponsored.
The Santa's Elves program has received 82 monetary donations, which will be utilized to provide Christmas for the children who have not been sponsored by an outside entity.
“We fully believe the number of children in need will continue to rise,” Davidson said last Wednesday. “Therefore, any more outside sponsors or monetary donations are greatly appreciated. We would like to ensure that all children who are in need are taken care of this year.”
In his final financial report for his state senate campaign, Ken Heath, Marion’s director of community and economic development, said he has donated all leftover campaign contributions to the Santa’s Elves program.
“As promised, I never took a single penny from any PAC, political party or corporation -- just friends, neighbors, classmates, and folks I’ve personally worked with over the years, along with a handful of donations from individuals that joined TeamKen,” said Heath, who lost his hard-fought battle with Todd Pillion for the 40th Senate district. “And, again as promised, once the outstanding bills were paid, I sent the entire balance to Santa’s Elves to help brighten Christmas for neighbors’ kids that might need a little help.”
“It’s something I’ve done for the past several years, fundraising to help kids at Christmas -- because I remember Christmases that depended upon the generosity of others for us growing up,” Health said. “It’s who I am.”
Heath has challenged all other politicians who ran a campaign this year to contribute to their communities.
“Instead of loading campaign war chests, give back to your community, our region, our district,” he wrote on Facebook. “Senator-elect Todd Pillion, here’s your first opportunity to serve VA40. Donate the balance of your campaign funds to your favorite cause to help kids this Christmas.”
“Let’s all come together for a better SWVA, and let’s start with this.”
Santa’s Elves is grateful for all those who help the program.
“We greatly appreciate the entire community for having a giving heart and wanting to help the children of Smyth County,” said Davidson. “Without the assistance from the community and working together as a team, Santa's Elves would not be possible and many children would go without Christmas presents.”
“We would like to send out a ‘thank you’ for everyone helping us help the children!”
For information about the Santa’s Elves program, call 276-783-8148 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. if you would like to make a referral or become a sponsor.
About the program
The purpose of the Santa’s Elves program is to see that Santa remembers every child in Smyth County and that a child is not forgotten just because the family is experiencing difficult times.
Families must meet income eligibility guidelines established by the program. Consideration will also be given to the family’s circumstances.
When a family is referred to the program, an application is completed. Volunteers/workers also make random home visits to verify information and to determine need. Once it has been determined that the family is in need, the Elves look to the community for support.
Persons interested in referring a child or those wishing to become sponsors may come by the Smyth County Department of Social Services or call 276-783-8148 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Volunteers will be available to assist. There will also be names of children in the Santa’s Elves program on the Angel Tree at Walmart. Cards on the tree have all the information needed to sponsor a child.
Sponsors basically act as Santa Claus. The sponsor will be matched with a family who fits the sponsor’s requests. Sponsor can specify age/gender/location and Santa’s Elves will try to match accordingly. The sponsor will be given a wish list provided by the child with clothing needs, sizes, and a requested toy.
The Elves try to match all children within a family with the same sponsor.
Individuals can also contribute to the 2019 Police, Fire & EMS Toy Drive, which will be held Saturday, Dec. 14, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Marion Walmart, Chilhowie Fire Department and Saltville Walgreens. The first-responders will collect gifts and donations to benefit the Santa’s Elves program.